Reading Log: tratteggio


Just finished reading a beautiful article on Cesare Brandi and tratteggio (visible restoration).
Tratteggio was a restoration technique championed by Brandi which dealt with the lacunae in damaged images, not by restoring them and hiding the restoration which Brandi described as the extreme of forgery, and not by gluing together the empty spaces in a form of object based archaeological “truth” that removed the aura and the aesthetic distinctiveness of the piece, but with tratteggio: a technique of tiny parallel lines in watercolour that are present in their own materiality up close but that colour merge when a viewer is at a distance. This is a kind of visible pixilation, or a restoration of pixilation, that was based in Brandi’s understanding of the dual nature of art:
Burnett writes: “artworks if they are anything, are special kinds of historico-material objects, and this specialness resides somehow in their own ambition to transcend their mere historicity and their mere materiality.”

There is no emphasis here on experience of the object, but something very important about the agency of the object, a combinatorial form of Hegel and Kant where the historical moment of the image’s making is recognized as equivalent to the historical time it has gathered. Brandi even went so far as to suggest that a work should become layered with tratteggio that each mark should become a fragment of the work’s time.

original article: D. Graham Burnett “Facing the Unknown” Cabinet 40, Winter 2010, 2011.